71 die in Abuja blast

16 buses, other ve­hi­cles de­stroyed 236 af­fected by blast – Min­is­ter Hos­pi­tals over­stretched Red Cross dis­trib­utes 200 body bags We’ll de­feat Boko Haram – Jonathan Sul­tan: We must wake up to chal­lenges

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Ron­ald Mu­tum, Ab­dul­wa­siu Has­san & Ruby Leo

At least 71 people were killed and 124 oth­ers crit­i­cally in­jured as a sus­pected sui­cide bomber at­tacked a bus sta­tion dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour in Abuja yes­ter­day.

Wit­nesses said high ca­pac­ity mu­nic­i­pal buses were about to set out for the city less than 10 kilo­me­tres away when the bomber struck.

Force Head­quar­ters spokesman Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice (CSP) Frank Mba said 16 buses were de­stroyed in the blast that hap­pened around 6:55.

Wit­nesses said a num­ber of smaller buses, cars and scores of commercial mo­tor­cy­cles and their rid­ers were con­sumed in the blast.

A huge crater left by the blast, charred wreck­age of ve­hi­cles and man­gled bod­ies on the ground tell the story of the dev­as­tat­ing power of the blast.

The ground was still strewn with hu­man body parts when se­cu­rity per­son­nel and emer­gency re­sponse of­fi­cials ar­rived the scene.

Panic set in as the sound of the ex­plo­sion rocked Nyanya, a sprawl­ing set­tle­ment on the edge of the east­ern part of the city that is home to mid­dle and low

in­come work­ers.

Ter­ri­fied com­muters fled the area in all di­rec­tions.

But many be­gan to re­turn as the dead and the in­jured were be­ing evac­u­ated to hos­pi­tals.

Se­cu­rity per­son­nel tried in vain to hold back the crowd that seemed mainly in­ter­ested in ob­serv­ing the op­er­a­tions than any con­cern about their safety.

Most of those that died in the blast are thought be govern­ment work­ers or those who work in ser­vice com­pa­nies.

CSP Mba said Po­lice anti bomb squad along with agents from other se­cu­rity forces have com­menced in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the blast.

He also said the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice (IGP) Mo­hammed Abubakar has or­dered all po­lice for­ma­tions to be on red alert and in­crease sur­veil­lance on all mo­tor parks and other vul­ner­a­ble points in Abuja.

No group has yet claim re­spon­si­bil­ity for the blast, but Pres­i­dent Jonathan dur­ing a visit to the scene im­plied it was car­ried out by mem­bers of the Boko Haram sect.

“The se­cu­rity ser­vices will con­tinue to work very hard, God will­ing we will get over it. The is­sue of Boko Haram is tem­po­rary. Surely, we will get over it”, he had said.

How it hap­pened

Two wit­nesses who spoke to Daily Trust had slightly dif­fer­ent nar­ra­tives of how the at­tack was car­ried out.

One wit­ness who claim to be a se­cu­rity op­er­a­tive but de­clined to give his name said he was stand­ing at an el­e­vated build­ing and watched as the blast hap­pened.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the per­pe­tra­tor came in a Si­enna van and parked it close to a bus in the crowded park, be­fore the blast oc­curred.

He said he sus­pected the de­vice used to be a cylin­der bomb wedged un­der the ve­hi­cle, which he noted made the ve­hi­cle to ex­plode up­ward.

How­ever in his own ac­count of the blast, a ticket ven­dor at the park told Daily Trust that the ve­hi­cle used was a Volk­swa­gen Golf car, which the sui­cide bombers parked in front of a bus.

He said the car im­me­di­ately ex­ploded af­ter four oc­cu­pants left the car, killing al­most ev­ery­body within the blast ra­dius.

PHOTO Abubakar Yakubu

Scene of the bomb blast at Nyanya Bus Ter­mi­nus in Abuja yes­ter­day.

In­fo­graph­ics UKEOMA MODESTUS

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